Good morning Father Angelo,
I found your email address in amicidomenicani.it
There is information I would like you to give me, please.
This morning a priest denied me Confession and the Eucharist.
I’ll explain the situation.
I have received baptism, communion and confirmation but unfortunately I am not sacramentally, but only civilly married because for health reasons we did not have the time.
I should be the wedding witness of a dear friend of mine but her parish priest, who agreed to let me be a witness, told me that I will not be going to receive neither Communion nor Confession.
I would like you to tell me if he is allowed to do so.
Thank you very much, best regards
Response from the priest
1. the priest you went to behaved as required by his role, which is that of being a minister of Christ and of the Church.
He accepted you as a wedding witness.
2. In itself, being a witness is a juridical act which certifies that the persons who have married have intended to marry and have uttered the words of conjugal consent in the required manner.
Therefore, an atheist or in any case someone who is “irregular” before the Church because divorced, remarried, cohabiting or only civilly married could also be a witness to a religious wedding.
3. Being a wedding witness is different from being a godparent of Baptism or Confirmation, because the witness to Christian life is required of the godparents.
This witnessing is not required of marriage witnesses.
As I said, it is a juridical act for which it is sufficient that the person is able to attest some seen or heard fact.
4. To receive Holy Communion, on the other hand, it is necessary, as you well know, to be in the grace of God.
And to confess it is necessary to be repentant of one’s sins and have the resolution not to live in a state of life contrary to the requirements of the Gospel.
5. Now according to the Church for the baptized only sacramental marriage is valid.
So, two baptized only civilly married are two people who behave like husband and wife (even in sexual intimacy) without being so.
And this is so true that the Church admits the baptized who comes from a merely civil marriage to the sacramental wedding. The reason is that civil marriage for the Church is canonically invalid.
6. So that if two baptized who only contract civil marriage without celebrating the sacrament at the same time, it is as if they are saying that they do not care about grafting their marriage into Christ and receiving from Him the grace that sanctifies their new state of life.
As you can see, it is an offense against Christ, a sin.
7. If two people only civilly married go to confession, they can receive absolution only if they engage in celebrating the sacramental marriage as soon as possible and in the meantime refrain from sexual intimacy because they are not yet husband and wife.
They will then be able to receive Holy Communion where they are not known as “irregular” because otherwise they would confuse the faithful.
8. So, in conclusion, you could receive absolution if you go to confession, but on the two conditions that I have explained to you in no. 7.
In any case, however, you could not receive Holy Communion at the wedding in which you are a witness.
9. As you can see, the priest to whom you turned behaved well, as a minister of Christ and of the Church.
And, as Saint Paul reminds us, ministers are required to be faithful.
With the hope that you may regularize your situation before Christ and the Church as soon as possible, I assure you I will keep you in my prayers and I bless you.
Translated by Chiara P.